The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 14, 2009

Bucknell and Susquehanna universities get nod

Stimulus funds: Universities, medical center receive $333K

By Gina Morton

Two Valley universities and a medical center will use $333,000 in federal economic stimulus funds to train health professionals, conduct studies and purchase science equipment.

A project that allows undergraduate students at Bucknell University to develop devices to properly deliver medications to patients — under the guidance of Geisinger Medical Center officials — is one of three Valley health care, education and labor initiatives to receive funding under last month’s stimulus package.

New science equipment and studies at Susquehanna University, and a pilot program for treating post-traumatic stress disorder at Geisinger, are additional projects that were selected, according to U.S. Sens. Arlen Specter and Robert Casey Jr., both of Pennsylvania.

The Bucknell-Geisinger initiative received $143,000 to train health professionals.

Dave Myers, chief of staff at Bucknell, said the partnership with the hospital has been in place for two years and the money will allow the program to grow.

The undergraduate biomedical engineering program is new, Myers said, but is becoming one of the best in the country.

“Students in the program take on projects with the guidance of people at Geisinger to work on medical devices and things,” he said. “This money will allow us to enhance the program a bit by treating broader internship opportunities for undergraduate students to work with people at Geisinger on developing those design projects and taking it to the next stage.”

One project, Myers said, involved students improving methods to ensure a correct dosage of medicine is given to patients with specific times and sequences taken into account.

This is the first time the program has received federal funding. It has received state money in the past.

“We’re very excited,” Myers said. “It builds on a good partnership and exciting opportunities for students.”

Additionally, Geisinger received $95,000 to pilot and test the Reaching Rural Veterans Initiative, a model for identifying and caring for combat stress injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder in returning veterans and their families.

“We recognize the critical contributions our veterans have made, and we want to do our best to make sure they have access to the care they need,” said Justin Walden, a hospital spokesman. “As part of this program, we will be working with primary care providers to identify returning veterans who may need mental health or behavioral counseling. We will then be working with our own clinics and hospitals, the VA and other regional providers to best care for these veterans.”

Susquehanna University has been allocated $95,000 to purchase science equipment that will expand learning and research opportunities for students and faculty.

A spokesman from the university could not be reached for comment.

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